The Shriver Report – If We Want Men to Give Equal Time to Parenting, Do We Need to Give Them Equal Parental Leave?
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If We Want Men to Give Equal Time to Parenting, Do We Need to Give Them Equal Parental Leave?
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Photo by Jim Gilson

 

“Today’s parents are stretched out like never before. Dads are Stretch Armstrong — tugged in multiple directions at work and at home, and still somehow expected to keep that big smile and buff physique! Moms are no less stretched out. They’re Elastigirl!” CNN Reporter Josh Levs wrote on his blog. “It’s time for our country to follow suit — to stretch out its understandings of men and women and the policies that affect their lives. In a country that prides itself on family values, we can do a better job of valuing families — moms, children, and us dads as well. You can’t have family values without valuing fathers.”

He wrote this in the wake of recently filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) citing that it was discriminating against biological fathers by not allowing them to take as much paid leave as biological mothers and adoptive parents.

After the birth of his third child in the Fall, Levs wanted to take some paid time off to care for his new baby girl. He applied for 10 weeks of paid leave and was denied. While Time Warner offers 10 weeks paid leave for biological mothers and adoptive parents – mom and dad – it only provides two weeks paid leave for biological fathers.

This left Levs with the choice of returning to work soon after his daughters birth or staying home and forgoing his pay.

Levs’ lawyer, Andrew Coffman, of  Parks Chesin & Walbert in Atlanta, said the case is still pending and in the “investigation” stage of the EEOC’s review.

Of course, by the time the case is resolved, it will be a moot point for Levs, who said he could not talk about the case while it is under investigation. On his Tumblr blog, he wrote, “With my first two children, I just dealt with this unfair policy. But this time, I can’t sit by and allow this inequality. It’s unfair to my wife and family, and to other dads and their families.”

His lawyer said while change may not come fast enough for Levs, hopefully it would benefit other families.

“The main hope is a policy change. We want large corporations to acknowledge that it is not in keeping with medical realities or with the way modern families function for fathers to be treated less favorably than their spouses .. or adoptive parents of either gender,” Coffman said. “While the hope would be that Josh does derive some benefit from a change, even in the form of additional days granted to him, a change in the policy would go a long way to mitigating the true harm caused here. Parenthood is full of demands for our time even beyond the first few weeks.”

Inc. cited the case as one the top 9 HR fails of 2013 and, although we recognize that the Unites States is still in great need of paid leave for all women with only a fifth of working women in the US receiving paid leave, we think Josh’s push for equal paid leave for biological father’s by his employer points to a great gap in our treatment of parents in the workforce. If we want men to be involved fathers, we have to give them the support, policies and tools permission to do so – just like we should women.

We are keeping our eyes on this dad, who recently spoke at the Dad 2.0 Summit and announced he is penning his first book on men and work/life balance – bringing the other half of the population into the nuanced discussion.

Some are calling his book, titled Stretched Out, Lean In – for Dads. It will focus on how men often have an easier time at work, but face obstacles – such as getting paid paternity leave – when trying to juggle career and parenthood.

What do you think are the biggest challenges men face when trying to balance family and work? What other dated policies are on the books that need to be revisited ? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

And – if you are a man with thoughts on the topic – Become a Reporter and share your thoughts on ShriverReport.org.

The Shriver Report aims to ignite conversations about our modern realities, however comments that are obscene, sexually explicit or include hate speech will be removed.
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